Second-placed CSKA made it five wins in a row despite conceding four power play goals at Lada, while the Moscow derby was dominated by Dynamo. Elsewhere, HC Sochi and Vityaz saw their playoff hopes take a knock with defeats at Lokomotiv and Severstal
The Army Men continued their winning run in a roller-coaster of a game, but the victory was overshadowed by an injury to Valery Nichushkin.
The young forward crashed heavily into the boards late in the first period and did not return to the game. Head coach Dmitry Kvartalnov later said that Nichushkin’s shoulder injury wasn’t too serious, but would rule him out for a short time.
On the ice, meanwhile, CSKA also faced adversity. An explosive first five minutes saw the visitor trailing twice on power play goals from Viktor Komarov and Kristaps Sotnieks. In between Nichushkin claimed an assist on Greg Scott’s equalizer for CSKA, but the first stanza ended with the home team ahead.
Maxim Mamin tied it up in the second, but the game changed – seemingly decisively – in the 44th minute. CSKA scored two goals in 28 seconds with Kirill Petrov getting his 14th of the season and the returning Geoff Platt celebrating his first game back in the KHL with a goal to make it 4-2.
Lada wasn’t finished, though. Two further power play goals – a second from Sotnieks and one for Andrei Ivanov – tied the game with 10 minutes to play as Nikita Filatov completed a hat-trick of assists against one of his former clubs. But Denis Denisov delivered the killer blow, making it 5-4 to CSKA in the 55th minute and securing a fifth straight win for the Moscow team.
Dynamo powered to a win in this Moscow derby – and the margin of victory was rather more emphatic than the scoreline suggested.
The visitor had Markus Svensson to thank for a brave goaltending display as the Blue-and-Whites fired in 51 shots on his net. The pressure was intense from the start, with Dynamo leading the shot count 23-3 at the first intermission and continuing in a similar vein into the middle session.
But the scoreboard remained blank until the 33rd minute when Denis Kokarev scored on the power play to break the deadlock. The goal was worth the wait: Konstantin Gorovikov found Kokarev in center ice with a pass that invited him to steam into the gap between two Spartak players before shooting over Svensson’s glove.
The floodgates still failed to open, though, and it wasn’t until the closing stages that Dynamo finally got the goals that its dominance deserved. Ilya Nikulin and Dmitry Vishnevsky struck two minutes apart to end Spartak’s hopes. While Svensson made 48 saves and lost, his opposite number Alexander Yeryomenko earned a shut-out with 19 stops.
Early goals, late flourish
Lokomotiv maintained its grip on fourth place in the Western Conference thanks to two early goals at home to Sochi.
The Railwaymen opened the scoring in the seventh minute thanks to an individual effort from Emil Garipov. Then persistence paid off for Denis Mosalyov in the 10th minute, as he fired two shots against the skates of Sochi’s defensemen before steering his third effort into the net. That spelled the end of Konstantin Barulin’s evening as the experienced goalie was recalled to the bench in favor of Dmitry Shikin.
It also put an end to the scoring until the last seconds of the game. Home goalie Alexander Sudnitsin, enjoying a rare start in place of Alexei Murygin, seemed to be set for a shut-out until Andre Petersson fired a shot into the angle of post and crossbar on 59:20. That was the Swede’s first goal since Sep. 27, confirming his return to full fitness after the injury he sustained against Metallurg Novokuznetsk in October.
It wasn’t the end of the action, though. Sochi hoped to snatch an equalizer, but gave up possession and allowed Brandon Kozun to shoot into the empty net and secure Loko’s first victory in three outings.
Vityaz missed the chance to return to the playoff places in the west after suffering a 2-4 defeat at Severstal. The home team opened the scoring in the fourth minute through Daniil Vovchenko’s ninth of the season, only for Alexander Nikulin to tie it up before the intermission.
The middle session saw Igor Magogin put Severstal back in front, and Swedish D-man Adam Masuhr got his fourth of the season to make it 3-1 early in the third. Nikulin assisted on Pavel Lukin’s first of the season for Vityaz to give the visitor hope, but Vojtech Polak’s late strike confirmed Severstal’s win.
A surprise loss at struggling Slovan kept Salavat Yulaev in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Slovak team has little more than pride to play for in the remainder of a difficult season, but produced a strong display to defeat a dangerous but inconsistent team from Ufa.
Veteran forward Jonathan Cheechoo opened the scoring in the 14th minute and Kyle Chipchura added a second in the middle stanza. The final period brought a second goal for Cheechoo and a consolation effort from Teemu Hartikainen before Igor Musatov wrapped up the scoring in the 56th minute against the team he played for in 2012-13.